Precedent Critique 1

Transformation - Shawn Hunt



Over the last week I’ve been interested in the idea of urban masks and in the idea of creating one as an exploratory prototype. While doing research and looking for inspiration, I found this great 3D printed mask created by Shawn Hunt and inspired in Northwestern Indigenous culture. The mask looks very cool as a futuristic raven, but what’s even more interesting is that it opens to to reveal a different mask.


I find this mask interesting in many ways. First, I really like the exploration of indigenous art in the the modern world. I think it’s important that we find ways on how to bring artifacts like these back into relevance and find them a space in the modern world. I find indigenous cultures a rich source of inspiration. Second, I like the metaphor that the artifact of a mask represents in the piece. As the artist puts it, “They [masks] are an interface with the unseen, whether it be the spirit world or the internet,”. I think this quote is very relevant with my work because it poses that masks can be portals that visualize the unseen and I am interesting in visualizing something unseen: data. Therefore, a few interesting question I want to explore with my prototype is “how might we visualize data in a mask?”, “what is my data mask?”, “how do we use masks in the modern era?”

Another thing I like about Hunt’s piece is that it’s inspired in an ancient Nuxalk mask that does the same thing but through another mechanism. Instead of using levers and a motor, it uses a system of drawstring which the wearer can pull to reveal the second mask hidden within. It’s interesting to think that the drawstring mechanism in the ancient mask would be considered advanced technology during their time, and I also find it compelling that after thousands of years apart two different technologies accomplish the same result.